Welcome to Melanie Fraser
Where are you from? Born in South Africa but have lived in the UK since the age of 10.
Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m an Actress (and former singer and dancer) and performed in theatre, TV and film for several decades. I started my professional training aged 5 in Cape Town before moving to England. I have a recording studio in a peaceful part of the Isle of Wight where I record voice-overs and narrate and produce audiobooks.
I have two pet rabbits and also enjoy jazz music and reading – mostly historical espionage and crime thrillers.
On average how many books do you read in a month? Oh, usually one and a bit as I read fiction and non-fiction although I don’t get much time to read so it takes a while to complete a book.
Where is your favourite place to read? At night at bedtime!
What genres do you prefer and why? Do you have any genres you avoid? My favourite genre is espionage (love the mystery and intrigue)
Other favourites are historical fiction and non-fiction (one learns so much about the world’s past events – if only history lessons had been so interesting)
Crime/thrillers I enjoy too as I like to guess whodunnit and enjoy the suspense.
Why are books important to you and what does reading bring to your life? Those with non-fiction elements are the most important. Reading is my special treat at the end of the day.
Do you have a favourite book or author, why do you think you like this book/author so much? I have many favourite books and authors – too many to mention here. However, the following are some of them:
Rachel’s Shoe by Peter Lihou
Rachel’s mother’s ingenuity in protecting her daughter and Rachel’s admirable strength of character in dodging her former captors had me hooked.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
The graphic detail of the killer’s methods and the pursuit of the Illuminati were compelling.
Birth of An Assassin by Rik Stone
Great atmosphere and descriptions of the terrain as a backdrop to Jez’s dangerous challenges – one of the best books I’ve found so far.
I also love the styles of authors, Simon Sebag Montefiore and BenMacintyre.
What medium do you prefer – e-books, audiobooks or paper books? Would you care to expand on this? I prefer hard copy as I like the feel of a book. However, e-books are convenient for downloading and as one can increase the font size, that helps too.
How do you usually find the books you read? For example: recommendations from friends, promotion on social networks, your local library, following authors you already know? I browse bookshops and charity shops as well as finding them on Amazon and Goodreads – the latter through information in groups. Once I find an author whose style I really like, I follow their upcoming books. Recently though, I found Ted Allbeury’s “The Twentieth Day of January” after hearing about it on BBC Radio 4 and loved it.
When choosing a book what makes you stop and give it a second look? What makes you turn away? The blurb will attract me if it is a subject that intrigues me. Then the first page has to capture my interest for me to continue to read it. The cover isn’t vital but it helps if it is suitable for the story.
What makes me turn away is if there are glaring grammatical and editing errors – I feel this is insulting to the reader and shows sloppiness and a lack of professionalism. If the book doesn’t capture my interest on the first page – as mentioned above – or the writing is clumsy, I move on.
Do you read reviews by others and if so do they influence your choice? Yes I do read reviews but usually after reading a book as I prefer not to be influenced by anyone.
Do you “judge a book by its cover?” No. Often a cover can be ghastly but the writing is superb and vice versa. The writing is much more important to me.
What do you think is the most important aspect of a book for you? Plot, world-building, strong characters etc.? What turns you off? Short sentences, good grammar and spelling and excellent research are vital as well as the plot and believable characters. I like a good pace to the book. Too much description hinders pace and can be monotonous which would definitely put me off.
Does the behaviour of an author affect your choice to read one of their books?No, I don’t think so.
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews on sites such as Goodreads? I think it’s fine for other people’s books but I don’t think authors should give ratings or reviews for their own books – that’s bizarre.
If you had to pick three favourite books to take to a desert island what would they be? I’d say the three I listed above! Although I’m currently reading a wonderful book which meets all the criteria I mentioned above called “Beneath Sunless Waves” by Stephen Makk so If I could squeeze in another one, that would be great!
Do you think bricks and mortar bookshops are in decline? Hopefully not. I’m sure there will always be a need for actual books for us in venues.
A new suspense/thriller from Kim Cresswell. Check out the original post on her blog
Resurrect is here!
Whitney Steel is back in the third book of the action-packed Whitney Steel series! A heart-pounding thriller about an infectious outbreak in the tradition of Robin Cook and John J. Nance.
After two prominent scientists working at privately owned BSL-4 labs in Nevada and Texas are found murdered, no one makes the connection until investigative reporter, Whitney Steel, receives information about a possible biological attack using a new chimera virus known as ‘Resurrect’.
But when Whitney begins to unravel the truth as to who is behind the threat, enemies far and near surface, and a shocking discovery into the past may change her life forever in a race against the clock.
NEW RELEASE DISCOUNT – Save $2.00 (limited time)
Only $2.99 US
Coming soon to Barnes & Noble, iBooks and other online vendors!
Coming soon in trade paperback and audio!
Get caught up…
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I’m pleased to welcome back author Tamara Lakomy, who visited us in February and March with her new book.
Author name: T.M Lakomy (Tamara Lakomy)
What first prompted you to publish your work? The characters have been germinating in my mind for years, I was always enamoured with ancient religions, specifically how they mirrored each other. The insatiable desire of humanity for a messiah has influenced civilisation to a much larger extent than we believe. The desire to believe we are god’s children and precious souls is the core of our religious identity, and I wanted to challenge the blind dogma.
What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Not getting carried away with delving deep into the characters back stories and anecdotes, it is difficult not to fall so far in love with your characters that you could abandon the plot just to discover them further.
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? I think it is very important for authors to support each other, because authors understand how hard the process is, and how much love and labour we have bled into the process.
Sort these into order of importance:
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I have immersed myself since I was young in the old folklore and my academic archaeology studies merely furthered my curiosity.
At the wilder ends of my studies, the process of decomposition of a body, as in my second book I tackle necromancy magic.
How influential is storytelling to our culture? In my culture storytelling has been the backbone of our society. It has been the passed down wisdom and storytelling that has kept the spirit of my people alive through conflict, colonialism and revolutions. Stories bear the collective memory and moral code of a people.
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Galadriel. I would have done more to mitigate against Sauron in the early stages. To be the voice of reason in Feanor’s life.
What is your writing space like? Cats lounging around happily, plenty of white wine, fluffy cushions and a view onto our garden. A desk littered with books and all sorts of random stuff.
Tell us about your latest piece? Sol Invictus – The power struggle between the Cult of the Sun King, seeking Apotheosis; man becoming God, aided by his faithful followers the Silver Brigade, to find his soul a vessel and the Shrine; the indigenous tribal magicians whose hoarded relics hold djinns powerful enough to thin the veil between life and death, holding the key to the forbidden necromantic Arts.
The impediment to the Sun King’s plan is the enigmatic Narya, a crime lord who forsook her guild education and the Shrine’s protection, shrouding her identity in mystery, and Maxilan the deadliest lieutenant called also the “White Devil”. Maxilan discovers his draw to Narya to be the fulfilment of his destiny; also his demise, resulting in him facing the reality of his purpose, the eugenics program that created him.
What’s your next writing adventure? Voice of the gods. As a writer I have pushed myself to my limits. I think it will be the most controversial work I have written.
Is there a message in your books? To encourage people to delve into their subconscious. I am questioning the roots of people’s beliefs and the identities that are predicated on those dogmas. Institutions and morality codes are built around creeds that have evolved from far more ancient sources.
How important is writing to you? It keeps my sanity in a world that does not make sense to me.
I am T. M Lakomy (Tamara Lakomy). I was born in London, but grew up as a tribal girl in a North African repressive regime. I spent my childhood between the slums of Mellasine and the affluent neighbourhoods in Tunis.
I studied archaeology and became enamoured with the shamanistic practices of indigenous people.
I am an author and poet who seeks to challenge our notions of reality, and see life with a different perspective.
I work in East Africa with indigenous tribes studying the origins of mankind and the salient golden thread in the tapestry of humanity’s beliefs.
Here’s the first of one of the new-style interviews – Good cop/bad cop. These feature enemies, or even a couple of protagonists that don’t get on. So you get to meet the good guys AND the bad guys:) I thought I’d try it out on two of my own characters.
Names: M’alia Erlis – elven sorceress of Ilthendra.
You may call me Commander Hendrick – Order of Witch-Hunters
Q1 Why are you on this adventure?
M’alia: We left Ilthendra to find the heir to the House of Light; the ring of light had been returned and the Mirror of Watching sang. We could not believe the prophecy had come to be.
It was supposed to be an honour. Our grandfather was the last Eltenda to the Shining Citadel of Lor Ar’thinis and we thought we could find it with the heir’s help. We thought we could regain what had been taken from us. The City of Light has been lost for centuries – but magic is complex, it is mysterious and it has its own path and way. Just perhaps the Shining Citadel could be returned, perhaps the Lady of the Light could bring us freedom.
We are elves – we are nothing but slaves and we have no rights, our history is nothing, our culture is in ruins. We bring the Plague and the magic that corrupts goodly folk. At least that is the official line.
The elves of Ilthendra believed we were remote, we were safe. Complacency kills. Ignorance kills. But hope, now hope keeps you alive. It’s all I have now. It’s all any elf has.
From the group who left Ilthendra only myself and my sister remain. Our companions were tortured and executed. I will never forget their screams. I am a prisoner in this fort, and my twin, Th’alia, has been sent with the Witch-Hunter to trap the heir and deliver the whereabouts Citadel to the Order of Witch-Hunters. I fear for my sister’s safety, she is not strong and I do not know if either of us will survive this.
Hendrick: This adventure as you call it is my duty! I am a Commander in the Order of Witch-Hunters and my word is law in this land. These elves dare to think they have rights, they wish to seek this magic town, and regain their riches and their filthy magic. Elves are nothing more than slaves and magic must be eradicated! This city and its wealth will fill my coffers, um the Order’s coffers. That elven witch is wrong – the elves have no hope.
And then, of course, there is the defeat of the Archmage Lord Archos of Tremellic. He is the lover of this elven sorceress they seek. His demise will ensure my promotion. That bastard has been trouble to the Order for years; yet he wields power and influence, one cannot simply walk into his domain and arrest such a man on rumours. That man is clever and rich he pays bribes and sweeteners; no one dares touch him. I know my duty – he does not frighten me like he frightens the rank and file. He is just a man and men can be killed. He’s a filthy mage and all mages will fall to my magebane sword.
Q2 who is your nemesis? Why is this?
M’alia: I am a forest elf, therefore in the eyes of the Order I am a slave. I am a mage too and my existence is forbidden. Here and now I am a pawn. The Order is my nemesis…
Hendrick: Mages. Everyone knows magic brings the Plague. The elves almost brought mankind down, with war, disease and magic. The price they paid was high but well-deserved. Humans are the rulers now – and magic will be tamed.
M’alia: Magic will never be tamed; you’re like the others – you do not understand. Magic is everywhere, it is wild and will not be enslaved. The Order has ruled for centuries but still magic finds a way.
Q3 at your final showdown what are your plans (promise we won’t tell).
M’alia: if by some blessings of the gods I still draw breath I will fry that evil bastard. I will not forget my treatment, what I have been forced to do, or the death of Elfkind at his hands. I will not go quietly. If I must burn this place and all in it I shall.
Hendrick: Pah! You think I fear an elven mage half my age? I have killed far greater than you, witch. Soon you will cease to be of use or entertainment to me.
As for that bloody Magelord Archos of Tremellic, I look forward to the day I can sink my Baneblade in his vile hide. All mages fall to Banecrystal – he will do the same. I have a whip studded with it; there is little more satisfying than flaying the magic from a mage.
Q4 define a hero.
M’alia: A hero is one who will put themselves before others, no matter the cost. One who will do what others will not, dare not. A hero will free others even if that freedom costs him all.
Hendrick: A hero is a man who sticks to his duty, who will sacrifice popularity for doing what he thinks is right. Reluctantly I agree with the witch – a hero is one who will do what others will not.
Witch-Hunters are not popular, those who rule by arms rarely are. We protect the greater populace from the perfidy of magic, from the risk of the Plague, and from themselves. Freedom is not a commodity peasants and elves can be trusted with. The Order brings peace – there have been border wars, and occasional rebellions but the Great Wars of Old are a mere history lesson. A hero brings peace whether it is wanted or not.
M’alia: It is not peace, it is tyranny. What value is peace if it beneath an iron fist? What value has peace to the slave?
Q5 define a villain.
M’alia: *Looks at Hendrick. A villain is someone who uses others for his own ends, who takes away the rights of another, and who causes harm simply because he can.
Hendrick: A villain is one who defies the law, who harms innocents and threatens the peace.
Q6 why do you think the other person is on the path he or she is?
M’alia: Hendrick is greedy and cruel. He wishes to subjugate the elves and take what remains of our culture. He wants the wealth and honour. He believes he is right. He is wrong.
Hendrick: *Shrugs. Why should I give a damn what motivates elves? They have hope, apparently, but like all elven filth that will come to nothing. They have nothing, they are nothing. Let the elves and mages find this magic city – then it will belong to me, to the Order. I am the Order.
Q7 what are your feelings about the other person?
M’alia: You need to ask me that? How do you think I feel about him?
Hendrick: I do not care what witches think of me. I am their scourge. Do I care for this elf? Don’t be ridiculous, I care no more for this one than any other piece of property. She serves to satisfy my lust, and is a means to get the Archmage and his friends. She has knowledge that I require – beyond that she is nothing. If I want a woman I can take one – I have no time or inclination for the burdens of marriage. One elf is much the same as another.
Q8 where will you be 10 years from now?
M’alia: Most likely dead. If I am not perhaps at home in Ilthendra, with my sister and my friends.
Hendrick: I will be promoted to High-Commander. I will have power, wealth and glory for serving my land.
Q9 do you have anything you’d like to say to your nemesis, that you may not get the chance to say when you meet?
M’alia: My nemesis is all Witch-Hunters. I will say this: Elves are not property, magic is not a creature to be tamed. Both are free, both exist despite the Order. The more magic is subjugated the wilder and craftier it will become. Magic is, has been and always shall be. The elves were once great and can be again. Freedom is relative.
Hendrick: When I meet the Archmage I will ensure he knows the might of the Order and the right of the Order.
Q10 why should readers believe YOU are right?
M’alia: Why am I right? I did not claim to be right, I simply say elves and mages are not ‘wrong’ simply for who and what they are.
Hendrick: The Order of Witch-Hunters uphold the law, the peace and the safety of the people. It is our right to remove those deemed a threat. Elves brought the Plague which almost destroyed the human kingdom, and still they bring their nefarious ways. Magic is dangerous! It’s perfidy creeps in good people and turns them bad.
M’alia: That’s a lie! Magic is like any other skill or weapon – if the user is bad then it will be used for evil. Magic heals, it sees what others cannot, it brings learning and joy. If it is hidden, and it’s practitioners have to live as outlaws it’s no surprise they must commit a crime. One whose very existence is forbidden has no recourse to law to protect them.
Hendrick: The law is right, it cannot be other.
M’alia and Hendrick appear here:
The Shining Citadel – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book II
Who rules in this game of intrigue where magic is forbidden and elves enslaved? Journey where beliefs shatter like glass, truth is unwelcome and monsters from ancient times abound: share the romance and revenge, magic and passion, and the wages of greed in a world of darkest fantasy. (18 age rated).
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2iqOXkr
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2hHRv9K
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2iOOWoB
Audible UK http://adbl.co/2iSW5GF
Title: The Carnelian Throne
Author: Janet Morris
Genre: allegorical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, political fiction
Main character description (short).
In a far and dystopian future, three rulers seeking to make truth of prophecy explore the “shores of which none are empowered to speak,” a forbidden continent where humanity no longer rules.
Brief Excerpt 250 words:
“Gate!” he bellowed over the storm, his dripping lips at my ear. The deluge had made us sparing of words. Under leathers soaked to thrice their weight, I shivered in spasms. Arms clutched to my sides, I stared into the rain. The driven sheets slashed me for my audacity. Lightning flared, illuminating the riverbank white. A moment later, the bright noise cracked through my head. The hillock trembled.
Over the gate danced the lightning. Its crackling fingers quested down thick-crossed slabs of iron, seared flesh. Emblazoned as they tumbled were those six-legged amphibians, their streamered tails lashing, scaled, fangful heads thrown back in dismay. I saw their afterimage: beryl and cinnabar, aglow upon the storm. Then their charred remains splashed into oblivion, spun away on the fast current.
“Down!” One man shouted, the other shoved me, and as I staggered to kneel in the sedges, the god that washed this land shook it, grumbling. I crouched on my hands and knees on the bucking sod, between them. Little protection could they offer up against shaking earth and searing sky, not even for themselves, without divorcing themselves from the reality they had come here to explore. And that they would not do.
Somewhere far off the weather struck earth again. We knelt on a fast-declining shore. On our right and left, steeps ascended, cresting in a plume of dense rain forest. In that moment of illumination the whole river valley and the gate set into the river stood bared of shadow. Six times the height of a man was that gate.
Why should readers buy this book (50 words max)?
The Carnelian Throne makes you think as it explores the revenge of nature upon humanity once we have despoiled land and sea, and what our manipulation of genetics may mean for the future as the three foretold seek truth in prophecy where men no longer rule.
Kindle On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XDC8Y4K/
Hardcover on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Carnelian-Throne-Silistra-Quartet/dp/099775835X/
Trade paper on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Carnelian-Throne-Silistra-Quartet/dp/0997758341/
The Silistra Quartet on Black Gate Magazine: https://www.blackgate.com/2016/03/19/vintage-treasures-the-silistra-quartet-by-janet-morris/
About the Author: Best selling author Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels. She wrote the bestselling Silistra Quartet in the 1970s, including High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne. This quartet had more than four million copies in Bantam print alone, and was translated into German, French, Italian, Russian and other languages. In the 1980s, Baen Books released a second edition of this landmark series. This third edition is the Author’s Cut edition, newly revised by the author for Perseid Press. Most of her fiction work has been in the fantasy and science fiction genres, although she has also written historical and other novels. Morris has written, contributed to, or edited several book-length works of nonfiction, as well as papers and articles on nonlethal weapons, developmental military technology and other defense and national security topics.
THREE GHOSTS IN A BLACK PUMPKIN Synopsis
Spooky and funny, a heroic fantasy adventure for middle-grade children. Nikki and her impish cousin, Jack, find a mysterious black pumpkin in the forest on Halloween. A wise talking skeleton, Wishbone, tells them that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers are trapped inside the pumpkin and can’t be freed without their wands. The children offer their help, so the skeleton takes them on a journey to the world of Creepy Hollow to retrieve the three wands he hid long ago in Red Crow Forest, the Tower of Shadows, and the Cave of Spooks. Ghoulina, the beautiful vegetarian ghoul, and Catman, who was once a man, join them on their quest. They must face danger and conquer evil every step of the way as they search for the Wands before the wicked Hobgoblin and his henchman, a Tasmanian Devil, can get their hands on them. This is a fun, humorous and touching story for kids, with plenty of character interaction woven into a backdrop of scary danger, heroic action and lessons to be learned.
REVIEW QUOTES FOR THREE GHOSTS IN A BLACK PUMPKIN
“I had such fun reading this, it’s a while since I’ve read a book written for children, and I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of sophistication there is, while still maintaining a tale suitable for the younger reader. The characters leapt off the page, acted naturally and, this is important for me as a reader, I felt for them, cared for them.”
— Author Lucinda E. Clarke
“The authors, Erika Szabo and Joe Bonadonna, share a great talent and imagination when it comes to write children’s stories. They take kids and young teens on a magical reading journey that will keep them glued to the pages. I recommend this book for young teens. It is the perfect story for Halloween time. It’s like Cool Whip on pie!”
— Children’s author Mary Ann Vitale
“Three Ghost in a Black Pumpkin: A Creepy Hollow Adventure by Erika Szabo & Joe Bonadonna is a Halloween Howling Hit! I loved this action packed scary tale from beginning to end and it will certainly engage young readers at home or school. This is book one in a series and I am already wondering what ghoulish adventures await this heroic team. As a teacher, I look for books that teach a good lesson and this one will not disappoint. I recommend this book for home or school libraries for children from ages 6 to 12. I gave it 5 Howling Halloween stars!”
— Children’s author Janet Balletta
“Erika became an avid reader at a very early age, thanks to her dad who introduced her to many great books. Erika writes alternate history, romantic fantasy, magical realism novels as well as fun, educational, and bilingual books for children ages 4-12 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before getting to know them.”
“Much like Erika, Joe’s dad introduced him to books, as well as movies and music, at a very young age. He was encouraged to write as soon as he could hold a pencil. While Joe writes mostly Heroic Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Horror and Science Fiction for an older audience, he decided to reach out to a younger audience and write something entertaining, as well as educational. This is his first collaboration with Erika, and his first children’s book.”
Joe’s Amazon Author Page
Buying link for THREE GHOSTS AND A PUMPKIN
Name: Thomas Barczak
What attracts you to the genre in which you write?
I am a dreamer. I have always had a great love for fantasy. My mind, it wanders constantly. I guess fantasy is just far enough away that when I get there, I can actually stay there awhile and find rest. I grew up playing D&D so I’m pretty sure that plays a lot into it as well. But mostly I think it goes back to its deep roots in mythology, to something more primitive, to a time when there were fewer distractions.
Fantasy is often criticized for being too black and white, and I think that’s a fair criticism, but I’m also not sure that’s entirely a bad thing. I think fantasy is at its best when it leaves our moral insecurities exposed yet still asks us to make a choice and actually take responsibility about which direction we want to go.
What piece of writing advice do you wish you’d known when you started your writing adventures?
It’s ok to fail. That’s how you get better. You can take your time. That and you actually have a lot of choices about what success actually means to you.
I think that is probably the single most important question an aspiring author should ask themselves: What am I trying to do and where am I trying to go. Then don’t settle for the first answer and dig deep. There is a purpose for what you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been given the ability to do it. Not everybody gets to be a writer. Take responsibility for it.
If you could have dinner with any famous person or character who would you chose?
J.R.R. Tolkien. He wrote myth from a place of deep personal belief. He didn’t write to preach. He wrote what he wrote because at the end of the day, that’s who and what he was. Honestly his writing at times is really not very good, certainly by contemporary standards. But it is this: It’s honest.
Who has been the greatest influence on your own work?
J.R.R. Tolkien, mostly for the reason above. He shaped the genre a helped shape the fundamental core of who I am. I’m not even talking about being a geek. I’m referring to the deeper allegory he prescribed – That there is always great hope still to be found in the greatest of losses.
Do you think the e-book revolution will do away with print?
Not at all, at least I certainly hope not. I would like to think that paper books are a little more resilient than 8-tracks. They certainly have a longer track record. And you don’t need any devices to read them, except for maybe glasses.
Which 3 books would you take to a desert island and why?
The Hobbit – So that I never forget that life is an adventure, even if you’re stuck somewhere.
A spiritual text – So that I have something to remember what I believe in.
A sketchbook – So that I have something to write and draw in.
Author bio and book synopsis
Please introduce yourself (250 words or so):
I am an artist, turned architect, turned writer, who finally got around to actually writing the stories I started dreaming about as a kid.
My work includes the dark epic fantasy, Mouth of the Dragon, the illustrated epic, Veil of the Dragon, the Kindle serials, Awakening Evarun (Parts I-VI) and Wolfbane (Parts 1-2 of 3), along with numerous short stories and flash fiction, including those published in “Heroika 1 – Dragon Eaters”, “Nine Heroes”, “Terror by Gaslight”, and “What Scares the Boogeyman”, as well as two volumes of the award-winning “Heroes in Hell” series, “Dreamers in Hell”, and “Poets in Hell”.
I write because I can’t not. I write because I need to tell the stories I already started on way before, in my painting, in my poetry, and even before that, when I was sitting around a table with friends, slaying dragons.
Tell us about your book(s) – title, genre etc (short)
Mouth of the Dragon, Prophecy of the Evarun, published by Perseid Press is a dark, epic and redemptive fantasy, which I sincerely hope challenges and presents anew everything a hero’s journey can be.
I’d like to welcome back author Robert Eggleton. Hi Alex. Thanks for inviting me back to your great book blog to update you about my debut novel.
Please recap briefly about your book: Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary fiction with a science fiction backdrop. In a nutshell, it is the story of victimization to empowerment taking readers from tragedy to comedy and satire, including political allegory that predicted the rise of Donald Trump to political power long before he became a household name. Lacy Dawn is a most unlikely saviour of the universe, genetically manipulated for millennia, who builds a team of zany characters to resolve an imminent threat to economic structures, one that could destroy all life – a longstanding feud between the political ideologies of extreme capitalism and democratic socialism.
What has changed since you last visited? Tell us your news! The biggest news item is that the final edition of Rarity from the Hollow was released to Amazon on December 5, 2016. When I last visited with you, my novel was being circulated as an Advance Review Copy (ARC), gathering praise and criticism by independent book reviewers and critics. One book critic had already compared the writing style to Kurt Vonnegut. https://electricrev.net/2014/08/12/a-universe-on-the-edge/ Another, a Retired Editor of Reader’s Digest, found that it was the most enjoyable science fiction novel that he had read in several years. http://warriorpatient.com/blog/2015/05/18/58/ After you interviewed me, Rarity from the Hollow was awarded Gold Medals by Awesome Indies http://awesomeindies.net/ai-approved-review-of-rarity-from-the-holly-by-robert-eggleton/ and Readers’ Favorite https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/rarity-from-the-hollow. A Bulgaria critic named Rarity from the Hollow as one of the best five books of 2015, along with Revival by Stephen King and The Martian by Andy Weir. http://codices.info/2015/12/top-5-for-2015-ventsi/. The ARC received twenty-six five star and forty-three four star reviews by independent book blogger on Amazon. Since release of the final edition, after its political allegory became much more obvious with the election of Donald Trump, a few reviewers took a second look at the novel and have upgraded their findings and ratings.
On January 6, 2017, the first of the final edition was published, five stars. The closing lines were: “…Brilliant satires such as this are genius works of literature in the same class as Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm.’ I can picture American Lit professors sometime in the distant future placing this masterpiece on their reading list.” https://marcha2014.wordpress.com/2017/01/06/5-stars-for-rarity-from-the-hollowby-robert-eggleton/ On February17, 2017, Dan’l Danehy-Oakes, a critic whose book reviews often appear in the New York Review of Science Fiction, published his review, five stars: “…I know this all sounds pretty whack, and it is, but it’s also quite moving. Lacy Dawn and her supporting cast – even Brownie, the dog – are some of the most engaging characters I’ve run across in a novel in some time….” http://sturgeonslawyer.livejournal.com/ On March 8, 2017, the 93rd book review was published by a book blogger, five stars: https://www.amazon.com/gp/review/RCL7S5MDYE791?ref_=glimp_1rv_cl
I’m continuing to promote Rarity from the Hollow by submitting articles and guest posts, participating in interviews, just about anything that I can think of to get the word out about the novel. As you are aware, author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment, so especially since the Trump administration has proposed budget cuts in domestic programs, I believe that any money that I can raise is important and will help a great nonprofit agency. http://www.childhswv.org/
Since the final edition of my debut novel was finally released, I’ve also gone back to work on the next Lacy Dawn Adventure, Ivy. One of my poems won first place in an international competition last year and I’ve submitted another to an online poetry magazine. I’m putting finishing touches on a short story that I plan to submit to a magazine before the deadline on April 15, 2017. Things have been “hopping,: Thanks for the great question.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? Maybe some writers can self-edit, but I’m terrible at it. I tend to read what I intended to write rather than what was actually written. One of my pet peeves is finding typos in emails and posts, such as on Facebook, that I’ve sent. My wife will sometimes look over stuff that I’ve written, but I’ve been so prolific that she’s often not available. For something like a novel, I would never submit it for publication without a “professional” edit. That doesn’t mean I have the money to pay for one, so I’m not sure what I’ll do if Dog Horn Publishing, my traditional small press, doesn’t survive in the marketplace. Rarity from the Hollow was first edited by a friend, an English teacher, and then professionally edited by the editor of one press, the Acquisitions Editor for the University of Michigan’s Library system, and then by two affiliates of Dog Horn Publishing. So far, nobody has commented on any editing issues or typos with the final edition of Rarity from the Hollow. I got lucky. I’ve never paid for anything to do with publication of my novel, including its free editing.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Prejudice against indie/self published authors used to be a lot worse. A book blogger recently published my take on the history of this controversy: “I Found God in Cyberspace.” https://gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/i-found-god-in-cyberspace-by-robert-eggleton/comment-page-1/#comment-755
Some well-known authors, including Stephen King, have more recently turned to self-publishing. https://www.bookworks.com/2015/06/why-stephen-king-j-k-rowling-joe-konrath-and-others-are-switching-to-indie-publishing-at-least-on-some-of-their-books/ However, for authors with little name recognition, this emergence of the traditionally published authors into self-publishing is not particularly encouraging. There have been a few self-published books that have sold well. Perhaps because he’s also a children’s psychotherapist, my personal hero is James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophesy. He sold the first 100,000 copies of his book out of the trunk of his car before it was picked up by a traditional publisher.
I believe that there are good and bad books self and traditionally published. I can’t think of any right off the top, but it used to be common to find typos in books long before self-publishing was available. I feel that the biggest advantage that traditionally published book have over self-published books is the advertising. While not true about small presses which seem to be going down faster than seals in an oil slick, some traditional book are marketed by high salaried publicists who buy reviews printed in popular magazines.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? In general, I think that it’s bad form for an author to publicly comment on a book review. As long as it’s done politely as part of a thank you note, I don’t see anything wrong with a private comment by an author about a book review. Of course, book bloggers moderate comments if submitted to their sites rather than by private email, so making an author’s comment would entirely be at the discretion of the book blogger. Competency as a book blogger or as an author, of course, varies. So does ethics. In my opinion, the skill is in the pitch for a book review, as written and as read. In my opinion, some book reviewers are so busy, perhaps overwhelmed by requests, that they may not fully read pitches and may prefer cookie-cutter type novels with which they are already familiar. Others look for those books which fall outside of mainstream releases. Online, I’ve met several wonderful people who have contributed to the promotion of Rarity from the Hollow. I’ve also met a couple who I now wish that I’d never pitched for a book review. In any case, reviews are critical to the potential success of the author and the book blogger, neither of whom are likely to make much money by their contributions to the World of Books.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Yes, I always read every review that is available before I buy a book.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? Perhaps more traditional than full reviews, authors writing blurbs about books have been a standard. Again, this question addresses ethics. I suspect that there are some authors and editors who primarily review books as a strategy to sell their own books or services. Of course, authors trading glowing reviews with other authors would be unethical. So are friend reviews, or, in my opinion, sharing posts on social media simply because of friendships instead of the merits of the posts. While it’s a World Wide Web, our participation on it always involves ethics. But, it’s so hard to compete simply by writing a good book. Many, if not most, traditional publishers definitely have the upper hand, so I’m a little lenient in this consideration. You know the old saying: “What’s fair for the goose is fair for the gander.”
Looking back what do you wish you’d known when you started writing? Looking back, I’m glad that I didn’t know then what I’ve learned since. I was a total novice, and to some extent, that remains true today. If I would have realized that the odds of having a good book ever appear in a book store, much less than 1%, I may have been too disheartened to have written Rarity from the Hollow. I’m very proud of my accomplishment. Especially so by two book review findings that it may outlive me: “…I would even say it could be read in a college setting both for the craft itself and its unique brand of storytelling….” http://tabbyafae.com/rarity-hollow-robert-eggleton/
Do you have any unpublished novels under the bed/in a folder anywhere which you thought were awesome at the time, but now will never see the light of day? No, I don’t have any unpublished novels that fit that description, but I have several short stories that are so dated now that they seem silly. Rarity from the Hollow was my first attempt to write a novel.
How have you progressed as a writer since you started? Technically, I’m somewhat more highly skilled in word processing, and that’s very important to writing. Most of the short stories that I just mentioned were written on a manual typewriter. I’m struggling with the craft of writing and not fully sure if my motivations to change style would be a progression or a regression of my craft. Part of me wants to remain semi avant garde and hope for a niche, while part of me wants to meet more mainstream expectations. It kind of feels like back in junior high when one struggles with wanting to both be unique but to also fit in with the crowd.
What are your views on authors offering free books? It’s a modern marketing strategy that supposedly can be used to build rank on Amazon if done through that company, but I suspect that most recipients of free books never read them or remain loyal to their authors. That’s a guess. I’ve thought about trying it on Goodreads, but since my writing doesn’t fit mainstream expectations I’ve been hesitant. Plus, many of the authors there seem to be much younger – kind of a social club – and, I may not have similar youthful interests or knowledge.
What are your plans for the future? When will we see your next book? Tell us about it. The next full-length Lacy Dawn Adventure is Ivy. It’s been ready for editing for quite a while but I’ve delayed for a couple of reasons: (1) I’m still promoting Rarity from the Hollow to build improved name recognition; (2) I’m now retired on a low fixed-income, unsure about whether my traditional small press will survive to publish Ivy without me incurring expenses, but even more unsure about the actual costs of self-publishing given my poor skills in technology. Ivy is the story about a unique alien invasion of Earth and asks the question: How far will a child go to save a parent from drug addiction?
Give us a bit of information about your primary character(s). Lacy Dawn is an empowered victim predestined for millennia to save the universe. A good way to get to know her would be to check out a character interview by Lisa the Robot Girl. It’s very funny, and deadly serious: https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/rarity-from-the-hollow-on-lisa-burton-radio/
Lacy Dawn’s father relives the Gulf War, her mother’s teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage — an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It’s up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn’t mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.
Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. A Children’s Story. For Adults.
“The most enjoyable science fiction novel I have read in years.”
—Temple Emmet Williams, Author, former editor for Reader’s Digest
“Quirky, profane, disturbing… In the space between a few lines we go from hardscrabble realism to pure sci-fi/fantasy. It’s quite a trip.”
- Evelyn Somers, The Missouri Review
“…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse…tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…profound…a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” — Awesome Indies (Gold Medal)
“…sneaks up you and, before you know it, you are either laughing like crazy or crying in despair, but the one thing you won’t be is unmoved…a brilliant writer.” —Readers’ Favorite (Gold Medal)
“Rarity from the Hollow is an original and interesting story of a backwoods girl who saves the Universe in her fashion. Not for the prudish.” —Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author
“…Good satire is hard to find and science fiction satire is even harder to find.” — The Baryon Review
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